LAS Visit to Temasek Polytechnic Library
Date of visit: 19th May 2016 (Thursday)
There were 36 of us on that sweltering mid-afternoon who made our way to the Temasek Polytechnic (TP) Library located at the centre of the campus. We assembled at the Library’s level two main entrance at 2.45pm. The recently renovated library was a great sight to look at, brimming with the youth and filled with the excited chatter of staff and students.
First segment: Library tour
From 3.00pm to 4.00pm, we were scheduled to do a library tour. The library building itself consists of an impressive ten levels. We waited at the entrance area for everyone to arrive for the group tours around the library. I was in a group of six led by our library guide, Sook Ching, a petite, cheerful and informative librarian. She started the tour by bringing us up to the second highest level of the library. At one of the lounge areas on the ninth floor, we introduced ourselves to each other. Sook Ching provided information about TP’s library and its activities.
The ninth floor houses the staff reading area where there is also a seminar room and a training room full of computers. It is a very conducive and quiet place for staff to relax, read a book or catch up with one another when they need a discussion area. One of the windows had a very majestic view of TP’s campus main entrance as well as the Bedok reservoir and the skyline in the background view. It was such a beautiful sight of scenery, student life and nature. The tenth floor is the headquarters of the library accessible by staff using the spiral stairs. The architecture was quite an artistic and thoughtful one.
Then we headed down to the eighth floor to see the open shelf areas. The sixth to eighth floors are the quiet zones with some low and high shelves. Each floor in the quiet zone has a colour theme to give a sense of vibrancy to the quiet zones of the library. These floors are connected via a set of spiral stairs in a capsule in the middle of the library. The journals and periodicals collections are housed on the sixth floor.
To support their institution’s goal to inculcate character building and cross-cultural mindset, TP Library has a special and cosy area of low shelves and synthetic tree structures to house books on character building as well as cross-cultural issues. As this is a relatively new initiative by TP, the collection is still in the midst of development.
Then we headed to levels five and then four, which are termed the collaboration zones. On these floors were the learning hubs and research pods. The learning hubs are discussion rooms with capacity for up to ten persons while the research pods are rooms without door for up to five persons. The mood on these two levels is a stark contrast to that of the quiet zones. We saw many groups of students discussing and talking to each other while some students were focused on reading or writing. There were a couple of large poster boards where students were crafting stories into comic strips. It is an open area full of boisterous and chirpy students, and even sounds of guitar strumming. On level four is also an IT service desk manned by students from the School of IT. We were told that this is part of their module learning activities. Computers, printing and photocopy services are also available on this level.
Then we went one more floor down to level three, termed Makerspace@TP. It is an area that is divided into three parts – workshop, open discussion tables and a large seminar aka meeting room. The Makerspace@TP is a relatively new initiative which started in January 2016 to allow their students and staff to try out new technologies and craft-making on campus as a way to facilitate creativity, collaboration and problem solving.
The tour ended at level two. Level two basically holds the library’s reserved book readings, law books collection and audio-visual materials. The loans and information desk are situated right beside the library entrance with a couple of computer facilities and self-checkout machines. There was an exhibition on the theme of Lee Kuan Yew designed by the TP students. It transformed the spacious entrance of the library with an appreciation for heritage and cultural roots, making the library more welcoming and multi-dimensional rather than just ‘a place for books’.
And finally, we took the lift to level one, which houses the offices of the library staff and the closed stacks.
Second segment: Makerspace@TP activities and networking
Before we commenced on the hands-on making activities at the Makerspace which was the highlight of the visit, we had a mini tea session at the large seminar room where we were offered bottled water, sandwiches with a choice of egg mayo or tuna mayo, or both, and ice-cream that closely resembled Ben & Jerry’s. After probing a little, we found out that the ice cream was actually a product designed by their students from the School of Sciences. The ice cream was really delicious and came in three flavours – chocolate, mango or cookies and cream.
There were three activities that we could choose from – Patchwork balls, Silkscreen Printing or Laser Cutting and Engraving. I chose to do Patchwork Balls, and that required a tremendous amount of patience and nimble fingers! My colleague and I concentrated hard to complete our craft of patchwork balls. When we finally finished, almost everyone was gone. But luckily our perseverance paid off and we graduated with compliments from our friendly and gracious patchwork trainer Grace!
Reported by Chen Yanru, Lyndia (NUS Libraries). Photos by Kam, Mi-kyeong (NUS Libraries)
Submitted by Kam, Mi-kyeong, Member of Programmes and Social Committee (LAS)